Keren Smeldey | 25th May 2016

I have been spending a bit of time in Australia. They may be the other side of the world but sadly the issues facing older Australians are very similar to those that many of us find ourselves grappling with. Many have to work longer than they had planned to ensure they have enough funds for their retirement. Others are finding that it’s really hard to get into the workplace or change jobs as they feel they are discriminated against because they are older.

In spite of these issues my general impression is that they are much more positive in their approach than in the UK. There is much less ‘woe is I’, and more activity. Several councils have set up positive ageing sections as part of their community work. I had the privilege of working with a group of people at a workshop titled ‘Make your age work for you’. There were eight in the group and they ranged from late 50s to 85! One member who was in her 70s expressed her desire to find ways (to develop herself. She had ‘retired’ over ten years ago and had then looked after her grandchildren while her children worked. The youngest no longer needed her as they were of an age to manage their own children and she was left with a gap in her life. It made me think about how different things are to previous generations. I don’t think we’d have heard a woman in her seventies expressing the empty nest feelings she had with her grandchildren growing up and her second ‘career’ coming to an end. This was a second round of empty nest for her, and even more poignant than the first one. Another member had just retired at 82! They’d been working a three quarter week up till then; they too wanted to explore what they could do and where they could be useful.

It reminded me that we are never too old to start something new. It doesn’t need to be something daring like bungee jumping, just something that we have always wanted to do or to go back to that will fulfil us and give us pleasure.

If any of you have any stories about your retirement or thoughts about your retirement please jot me a line.

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